BIGHORNS AND SKIING CAN LIVE TOGETHER
Take bighorn sheep. Few animals appear as rugged and tough as a bighorn ram, with its muscular body and burly horns.
Yet bighorns are remarkably fragile. They’re susceptible to human stress, winterkill and disease. That’s why since the 1800s these magnificent animals have lost 95% of their range and exist at only 5% of their historic numbers. Given this history, it’s easy to imagine that the Tetons could become yet another mountain range that “used to have” wild bighorns.
Bighorn sheep biologists have been working to conserve the native and rare bighorn herd of the Teton Range to prevent local extinction. This winter we have reached two landmarks in these stewardship efforts.
These bighorns have survived in the Tetons for thousands of years. However, like elsewhere, numerous factors have lowered and restricted their numbers and distribution. Many of these factors are linked to humans — habitat alteration, livestock disease, disturbance, broken migration routes, past overhunting.
Biologists from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department put their brain power together in the early 1990s to form the Teton Bighorn Sheep Working Group. We solicited the advice of dozens of leading bighorn sheep biologists from both Wyoming and the rest of North America. Continue Reading Here